About Authors and Journalists that have been murdered. Read on to find out what we can learn and how important their lessons are for the preservation of our democratic world today.
From Joy Adamson, author of Born Free; Anna Stepanovna Politkovskaya, author of Putin’s Russia; Barbara Olson, biographer of Hillary Clinton for The Final Days; Daphne Caruana Galizia, Maltese reporter and author; and Dian Fossey, author of Gorillas in the Mist.
Joy Adamson (1910–1980)
Friederike Victoria, better known as Joy Adamson, was a naturalist, artist, and author. Joy wrote the book Born Free, detailing her experience of raising a lion cub called Elsa after its mother was killed. Her book was groundbreaking because it transformed the relationship between mankind and animals by giving them a voice at a time when killing was in, and caring was out. It was translated into several languages, and the movie rights were sold. The film was an instant and award-winning success.
Joy Adamson's body was found by her assistant. Initially, he thought she had been killed by a lion, and this was reported to the media. On closer inspection, however, sharp stab wounds in her body were discovered that could not have been made by a lion. The conclusion was that she had been murdered. Paul Nakware Ekai shot Joy after he accused her of not paying his salary, claiming that she had shot him in the foot first. He was found guilty of her murder and received lifelong imprisonment.
Joy was described as an unhappy woman, known for her quick temper, highly strung and a tyrannic employer. In 2005, Paul Nakware Ekai retracted his statement and claimed he didn’t kill her. It's ironic that having dedicated her life to wild animals, she was killed by humans.
Anna Stepanovna Politkovskay 1958-2006
Anna was a liberal Russian journalist, activist, and writer who reported on political events in Russia—particularly the 2nd Chechen War (1995–2005)—due to the human rights abuse and corruption scandals during the war. It was her reporting on the Chechen war that gave her national and international recognition and won her awards from 2000 onwards.
She was subjected to numerous attempts on her life, such as mock execution and positioning, but she continued to report regardless. Her investigative journalism was published in the Russian Newspaper “Novaya Gazeta,” and in 2004 she published Putin’s Russia.
Anna was murdered in October 2006, in the elevator of her block of flats. Her murder made international headlines. In June 2014, five men were arrested and imprisoned, but it was never discovered who was behind the contract killing. Her murder raised alarm bells to anyone who challenges authority and raises deep concerns for the rule of law under President Vladmir Putin. Since her death, there has been less and less independent journalism in Russia.
Barbara Olson (1955–2001)
Barbara was an American lawyer, television commentator, and biographer. She became a successful conservative political commentator during the Bill Clinton impeachment trial. She wrote two books; Hell to Pay: The Unfolding Story of Hillary Rodham Clinton and The Final Days: The Last Desperate Abuses of Power by the Clinton White House.
Barbara was onboard American Airlines Flight 77, one of the airplanes that were hijacked and flown into the Pentagon on that tragic day of September 11th. She telephoned her husband, US Solicitor General Theodore “Ted” Olson, twice, stating that the terrorists had hijacked the flight and that they had box cutters as weapons. This report became the foundation for the official account of 9/11. However, the credibility of her phone calls was later brought into question. For further explanation, please see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbara_Olson
Daphne Caruana Galizia (1964–2017)
Daphne was a Maltese journalist, writer, and anti-corruption activist. She reported on political corruption, nepotism, links within the Maltese online gambling industry, organized crime, and money laundering. She was arrested several times by the Maltese Police Force and subjected to constant threats and harassment. She was one of the first journalists to know about the Panamanian companies which led to the Panama Papers.
In October 2017, she was driving from her home when her car was bombed. She truly understood the importance of freedom of expression and recognized that it was swiftly deteriorating in Malta.
Dian Fossey (1932–1985)
Dian was described as colorful, controversial and "A racist alcoholic who regarded her gorillas as better than the African people who lived around them." A primatologist famously known for her extensive research into gorillas in the Rwandan mountains, she wrote the book Gorillas in the Mist, which was further adapted into a movie.
She was fervently against poaching and became more assertive, using unusual techniques to protect the gorillas, such as wearing face masks and the use of firecrackers—all to scare the locals, as well as tourists, because she feared the primates would be infected by human disease, bypassing their immune system.
Dian Fossey was brutally murdered in her cabin, and there are a few theories surrounding her murder. According to rumors, she was threatening to reveal to the world evidence of poaching and gold smuggling in Rwanda’s national park. This would have implicated several government officials, and the area that the camp was in was a prime gold smuggling route. The other theory suggested that her murder was linked to her conservation policies.
In the end, her research assistant, Wayne McGuire, was convicted of her murder. He fled the country prior to the trial. Since Rwanda does not have an extradition treaty with the US, he never appeared in court and never served his sentence; the trial was subsequently held in absentia.
His motive for Dian's murder was that he wanted to steal her manuscript for the sequel to Gorillas in the Mist. Wayne McGuire has always defended his innocence and in turn blamed Protais Zigiranyirazo (aka Monsieur Zed), who was responsible for the 1994 genocide that killed 800,000 Rwandans.
What lessons can we learn from these tragically murdered authors and apply today? These female heroes were all fighting against the injustice of their failing system, be it in politics, for animal rights or against violence.
We need to be alert to these failings by including critical journalism so that mainstream media does not dominate by promoting a one-dimensional atmosphere. We need to voice our concerns in a safe environment that does not allow us to feel threatened or intimidated by political or other institutions—this is one of the cornerstones of democracy.
These women had substantial and passionate claims to their cause, and we should take note that they are exactly opposite to the rise of populism and fake news that is currently threatening our new Europe i.e. the EU.